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Cat Only Veterinary Practices

By Tammy Hunter, DVM; Robin Downing, DVM, CVPP, CCRP, DAAPM

Care & Wellness, Pet Services

I notice there are some veterinary practices that only see cats as patients. What are the advantages of taking my cat to one of these practices?

Veterinarians and veterinary healthcare teams who dedicate themselves to see only cats place a high value on their feline patients’ distinct needs. They are especially interested in delivering medical care to cats in ways that help the cat (and her human family members) experience as little stress as possible.

A cat-only veterinary practice is typically designed and built with cat comfort in mind. You may find examination rooms with softer lighting, soft surfaces for examination tables, or chairs on which the veterinarian will sit in order to examine her patients on her lap. There are no dogs allowed in a cat-only practice - a serious stress reducer for most cats.

"A veterinarian and veterinary healthcare team that only take care of cats will generally have greater experience with cat-specific medical issues."

Veterinarians and veterinary healthcare teams that only care for cats will generally have greater experience with cat-specific medical issues. Because they only care for cats, their patient handling will reflect a feline focus. Cat-only practices tend to utilize minimal restraint techniques - another stress reducer. You will also tend to find lots of cat-specific retail products in cat only practices.

Are there any special designations I should look for when trying to find a cat only practice?

The American Board of Veterinary Practitioners (ABVP) is a veterinary specialty organization that certifies practicing veterinarians as specialists in 11 areas including Canine and Feline Practice, and Feline Practice. These species-specialized veterinarians have made a choice to undergo a long and difficult process of additional studies and examination to become board-certified specialists recognized by the American Veterinary Medical Association. Becoming an ABVP Diplomate demonstrates knowledge and expertise above and beyond what is required to practice veterinary medicine, and reflects a commitment to excellence in specialized care of cats (Feline Practice), or cats and dogs (Canine and Feline Practice). There are only about 900 ABVP specialists in the United States and other countries

"Many cat only practices are taking the extra steps to be recognized by the AAFP as Cat Friendly."

The American Association of Feline Practitioners (AAFP) is an organization dedicated to the special needs of cats. Members of the AAFP have a special interest in cats and feline medicine. When you are seeking a veterinarian for your cat who takes a particular interest in cats, AAFP membership is something to look for. The AAFP has a program through which a veterinary practice may earn the designation Cat Friendly Practice, which means that steps have been taken to create a soothing low-stress environment for the cats who come in for care. The Cat Friendly Practice program is relatively new, but you can search for Cat Friendly Practices in your area on the AAFP website (catvets.com). Many cat only practices are taking the extra steps to be recognized by the AAFP as Cat Friendly (see handout "Cat Friendly Veterinary Practices" for more information).

Cats need to see their veterinarians for preventive care. It is recommended that cats be seen by their veterinarian twice per. Cats age faster than humans do, so their health status can change within a relatively short period of time. Early detection leads to early cure/resolution of most diseases, and the only path to early detection is regular veterinary evaluation. You can make regular veterinary assessment as easy as possible for your cat by seeking out a cat only veterinary practice.

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